Road Stories Blog

Community Profile: DeKalb, Illinois

By Stephen Manuszak

Named after the decorated war hero Johann de Kalb, who served in the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War, the city of DeKalb, Illinois, is home to more than 43,000 residents. The city was founded in 1837 as a small community along the Kishwaukee River, but DeKalb grew significantly after the arrival of the Chicago and North Western Railway in 1853.

Agriculture was a large part of the city’s early economy, and DeKalb’s central location made it easy to ship crops and access larger markets.

Community Profile: Sisseton, South Dakota

By Emily Anderson

Sisseton is a city of 2,470 people situated in northeastern South Dakota on the Lake Traverse Reservation. The reservation is home to the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate—the word “Oyate” means “people” or “nation” in the Dakota language—which includes more than 10,400 members of the Sisseton and Wahpeton bands of Dakota people. The Dakota people are a subdivision of the Sioux, who are native people of Iowa, Minnesota, and the Dakotas. The reservation that became the present day home of the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate was established in 1851 by the Treaty of Traverse de Sioux.

Community Profile: Orange City, Iowa

By Emily Anderson

The European feel of Orange City, Iowa, was a pleasant surprise for both Baladino and Le Vent Du Nord during their residencies as part of the 2013–2015 season of Arts Midwest World Fest. Orange City is a small community of 6,004 residents located in northwestern Iowa. It is the seat of Sioux County, and in addition to headquartering several major companies, it is home to Northwestern College, a small liberal arts college known for a strong theater department.

Community Profile: Grand Forks, North Dakota

By Stephen Manuszak

Grand Forks, North Dakota has a population of 52,000 and traces its history back to the 1800s when fur and other commodities were traded in the area. The city was officially founded in 1870 by steamboat captain Alexander Griggs. Fur trading eventually gave way to agriculture, which is still an important part of the local economy along with higher education, national defense, health care, manufacturing, food processing, and scientific research.

Community Profile: Northwestern Wisconsin

By Stephen Manuszak

Several communities in Northwestern Wisconsin have banded together to host the 2013–2015 season of Arts Midwest World Fest, including Rice Lake, Cumberland, Shell Lake, and Barron. These cities feature an array of unique arts and cultural activities as well as a scenic environment and burgeoning industries.

With approximately 8,400 residents, the city of Rice Lake is the largest community in Barron County and serves as a center for commerce, manufacturing, health, and educational services. Located in the beautiful Red Cedar River valley, Rice Lake boasts an abundance of lakes and trails.

A hearty “bon voyage” to Le Vent du Nord

By Emily Anderson

With their Arts Midwest World Fest tour concluded, Le Vent du Nord has returned to their homes in Québec, Canada. We’ve learned so much about Québecois culture this year, beginning with the history of French settlement of Québec and some essential background on poutine in the study guides. Le Vent du Nord proved to be a festive and easygoing ensemble—true professionals.

A fond farewell to Baladino

By Stephen Manuszak

Even before they arrived, we started learning about Baladino’s music and the country of Israel with the Arts Midwest World Fest study guides. We also interviewed Yonnie Dror to find out what he was looking forward to on his U.S. tour and how we started playing music.

Baladino in Orange City, IA

By Emily Anderson, Photos by Eric Young Smith

Midwestern communities have much in common, but there are always fun surprises that make each one stand out for the Arts Midwest World Fest artists. Baladino wrapped up their spring tour in Orange City, Iowa, where they were pleasantly surprised by the old-world European charm of the coffeehouses there.

The ensemble raved about the delicious coffee and the intimate atmosphere of the venues that made their time in Orange City unique. What a wonderful place to wrap up their spring tour with Arts Midwest World Fest!

Baladino in Bemidji, MN

By Emily Anderson, Photos by Eric Young Smith

Bemidji, Minnesota is a small community with a huge interest in arts and culture, and Baladino enjoyed their weeklong residency there in mid-March. Each residency with Arts Midwest World Fest is a little different, reflecting each community’s unique culture and values. In Bemidji, the band fit right in and found lots of opportunities to share their passion with music lovers of all ages.

Le Vent Du Nord in Medina, OH

By Stephen Manuszak

Le Vent Du Nord—“The North Wind”—arrived in Cleveland on the heels of a snowstorm to start their final tour as part of Arts Midwest World Fest. The group had just finished tours through Europe and Alberta, Canada, as well as Idaho and Montana, but their workshops were as energetic and joyful as ever.

Their week in Medina, Ohio, and the surrounding area started with a welcome reception that included homemade sweets, a short performance, and discussions with local residents, including the mayor of Medina.